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A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
July 4, 2014
Pakistan v India, Peshawar, 1989
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Sachin Tendulkar had announced his arrival in international cricket in the four Tests that preceded the one-dayers, but he saved his most emphatic statement of his debut series for a match that wasn't even deemed official. Poor light in Peshawar forced the first one-dayer to be abandoned without a ball bowled, but in order to appease the crowd, the organisers managed to squeeze in a 20-over exhibition game. Pakistan posted 157, but a struggling chase was given a lift by the promising 16-year-old. Abdul Qadir had bowled a maiden to Kris Srikkanth and at the end of the over told Tendulkar to treat him like any other bowler and not be overawed by his presence. It was aimed to build his confidence. Tendulkar did as he was told. India needed nearly 14 an over in the last five and Tendulkar had just smashed Mushtaq Ahmed for two sixes. Qadir's words fired him up further. Qadir's over read - 6,0,4,6,6,6. Tendulkar smashed an astonishing 18-ball 53 and India fell short by just four runs. Tendulkar was yet to make his ODI debut. His captain Srikkanth reportedly said later that evening, "The little bugger must play now." He debuted two days later.
Asia XI v Rest of the World XI, Dhaka, 2000
The ICC picked April 2-9, 2000 to celebrate the ICC Cricket Week but its timing couldn't have been worse. The celebrations and events were jolted with the outbreak of the game's greatest scandal - the Hansie Cronje match-fixing controversy. A 50-over match between Asia XI and Rest of the World XI was played in the backdrop of this saga and the ICC did well to organise the match in cricket-mad Bangladesh. The Bangabandhu National Stadium was packed to capacity, proving there was faith left in the game. The fans were treated to a high-scoring thriller. Asia XI posted an imposing 320, led by Sachin Tendulkar's 80. Rest of the World's chase was the story of one man - Michael Bevan. They were 196 for seven before Bevan and Caddick came together. They were still at the crease when Rest of the World needed 20 off the final over, and Bevan hit three consecutive boundaries off Abdul Razzaq to threaten a heist. ROW fell short by a run and Bevan's contribution was an astonishing 185 off just 132 balls. The next highest scorer was Mark Waugh (28). Caddick, who put on 119 with Bevan, scored 23.
Asia XI v ICC World XI, World Cricket Tsunami Appeal, MCG, 2005
Just days after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami devastated South Asia, a fund-raising one-dayer was organised at the MCG and deemed an official match to encourage a competitive flavour. There was plenty at stake - each run earned US$760 for the cause and each six US$38,000. In the end, 576 runs were scored and seven hits cleared the boundary and Bob Merriman, Cricket Australia's chairman, presented a cheque in excess of A$14million to World Vision. The ICC World XI were carried to a massive 344 thanks to Ricky Ponting (115), Brian Lara (52) and Chris Cairns (69). Asia XI's innings lasted just under 40 overs and they conceded the game by 112 runs. A better showing would have brought in more cash but with more than 70000 filling the seats, both players and fans united for a common cause.
MCC v Rest of the World XI, Princess of Wales Memorial Match, Lord's, 1998
Nearly a year after Princess Diana's death in a car accident, a star-studded 50-over charity match was organised at Lord's to raise money for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Two composite sides were picked and Tendulkar, playing for the Rest of the World (ROW), was in the form of his life. Having hammered Shane Warne just months earlier, Tendulkar, not surprisingly, was the biggest drawcard at Lord's. Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 127 lifted MCC to a competitive 261, before Tendulkar cut the target to size. The match may have lacked a competitive flavour, but the individual brilliance of Tendulkar more than made up for it. Tendulkar took 22 off an Aamer Sohail over on his way to 125 and with Aravinda de Silva (82) giving him company, ROW knocked off the target in just 43.3 overs. The match also coincided with WG Grace's 150th birth anniversary and Michael Atherton, captaining MCC, said at the presentation: "WG Grace wouldn't have batted as well as Tendulkar did today."
Wills XI (Ind/Pak) v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1996
The pull-outs by West Indies and Australia shortly before the World Cup due to the security fears in Sri Lanka was a blow to the country hosting its first major global cricketing event. The civil war with the separatist LTTE hadn't abated, but in order to prove that the country was safe to tour, the co-hosts India and Pakistan played a one-off exhibition match in Colombo as a gesture of solidarity, a day before the tournament began. It was the first time India and Pakistan played as a combined team, against the hosts. Sri Lanka managed only 168 for 9 in their 40 overs and the target was easily achieved by Wills XI, who won by four wickets. It was a match remembered not for the quality of cricket but for the players' commitment to a cause of a different kind. Thousands flocked to the R Premadasa Stadium and though Sri Lanka lost, the crowd was only too happy to be a part of this occasion.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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